Small Business Should Invest in Big Data and Analytics

Data

Big data refers to huge volumes of structured and unstructured information; however, processing such massive volumes of facts via traditional information management tools is inefficient and impossible. To understand big figures you have to realize the devices that are collecting it today e.g. bar code scanners, mobile cameras, CCTV cameras, motion sensors, smoke alarms, web analytical tools, CRMs, etc. From the examples, you can see that these devices collect a vast array of data types hence the structured and unstructured part in the definition. The sheer velocity at which the data is being produced cannot be controlled and processed using traditional methods and tools.

However, the use of big information and incorporation of big data analytical technology gives businesses the competitive edge over their competitors.

Big Data and Small Businesses

It is only a thing of the past when terms like big information and business intelligence were associated with large enterprises only. Today, small businesses have to leverage the facts they are collecting in order to remain a part of the competition. For years, cost has remained the main reason why small businesses did not adopt big data analytical technologies, but this has changed now. There are budget-friendly tools available for small businesses to take advantage of the data they are collecting today. According to some experts, small businesses can take better advantage of big information since they are able to make the necessary changes far more quickly than large enterprises i.e. real-time response to insights from available data.

According to an IDG study in 2016, 78% of the large enterprises agree that big data strategy has the power to change how businesses have always operated. This shows the acceptance of big data technology and strategies for large enterprises and strengthens the fact that small businesses could become irrelevant if they did not adopt the same strategies.

Benefits of Big Data Analytics

Big Data and Big Companies, a report by IIA Director of Research, Tom Davenport, reveals that businesses are benefitting greatly from big data analytics especially in improving their products, making business decisions faster and reducing costs. Here are some ways small businesses can benefit from big information.

·         Cost Savings

The upfront cost of implementing big information tools and strategies is high undoubtedly, but the long term benefits of doing so are matchless. The healthcare industry is a great example of how the use of big data can help businesses reduce their costs regardless of their size. Using predictive analytics, Medicare and Medicaid Services forestalled more than $210 million fraud in healthcare with just 2 years of utilizing the aforementioned technology.

In addition to preventing frauds, small businesses can also reduce their costs by steering clear of creating more inventory than needed, including better partners in the supply chain, etc.

·         Improved Decision Making

This is the biggest benefit of big data. It allows businesses to expedite decision making by processing the data fast and giving insights in timely manner. In the past, business decisions were reserved for future strategies in the light of available data and the trends that were observed in it. The amount of data that businesses are sitting on today is huge and thus more powerful insights are to be gained from it. This vast amount of information requires the use of modern big data hardware technologies. Once both the things are in place for a business, they can understand customers better, create products that are a closer reflection of what customers want and develop a brand based on most reverenced values.

·         Impenetrable Security

Businesses are more focused today on using big details to improve their core capabilities, but less attended to a more serious concerns i.e. cyber threats and security breaches. Almost every small, medium and large business is connected to the internet today. Moreover, the Internet of Things has broadened the attackable security surface for businesses making it easier for cyber criminals to attack networks and penetrate company databases.

The biggest concern for modern businesses is that they have to “respond” to cyber attacks that have already occurred rather than being able to prevent them from occurring. The use of big information and big data analytical tools can be a game changer in this area allowing businesses to prevent any security attacks way before they are executed.

Key Technologies Helping Businesses Make the Best of Big Data

As a small business, you will have to familiarize with various technologies that help you store, analyze and take action on big data. Here are some important ones:

·         Hadoop

It’s a framework supporting the storing of large amounts of information using an open-source approach. Once information is stored, Hadoop enables the use of a variety of applications using “clustered hardware” at its base. Due to the cluster of commodity hardware, it becomes possible and easy for businesses to process big data despite its increasing volume.

·         Data Mining

This is the technology that enables business owners to capture insights, patterns and trends from big information that otherwise cannot be obtained with a traditional approach. Data mining is what allows you to jump in a large sea of structured and unstructured data, make sense of it all and produce analytical insights that help businesses with real-time and future decisions.

·         Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics walk side by side with data mining. Artificial is at the heart of predictive analytics, enabling business owners to adjust their present strategies by giving predictions about what will transpire for the business based on existing details.

·         Text Analysis and Mining

One huge concern for modern business is to analyze the noise on various web platforms such as forums, blogs, social networks, etc. to understand what customers expect from a particular brand. Finding out about brand mentions and understanding customer’s impression of your brand can help you readjust your marketing approach to gain customer loyalty. Text mining helps small to large sized businesses go through text data from emails, blog posts, social networks, etc. and hear customers “voice”.

With the rise of smartphones, artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things) it has become clearly visible that businesses will now have to handle mountains and mountains of data, and make use of big data analytical and processing technologies to have the competitive edge.

 

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5 Steps to Create a Good Back Up

Back upThere is no denying that back up or securing your company’s data is of paramount importance. Whether it is a client’s files, project details or any important communication, everything needs to be securely saved in a digital format. Losing important data can have ethical ramifications and it can be professionally catastrophic.

That is to say, cyber security must not be taken lightly. No matter whether it is your family picture or any other important document, data protection is important. Many of us consider downloading anti-virus software enough when it comes to protecting valuable files.

However, this software can easily be hacked as soon as hacker gets access to it. That means finding other solutions that help you recover your valuable data is crucial.

That is where you need to implement a backup strategy in order to prevent data loss permanently. Whether you are analyzing your existing backup plan or implementing it for the first time, here we have included five important steps to help you create an effective backup plan.

Before we get into the details of creating back up data, it is essential to understand why it is vital.

Why You Should Have a Backup Strategy?

If you are a startup, you need to understand that your business reputation is one of the most important aspects to strengthen your relationship with your customers. Losing a customer’s personal data may raise questions on your credibility.

According to a recent survey conducted in 2017, an average data breach costs around seven million dollars. This is a significant impact that very few companies can afford. Another survey estimated that approximately 60% of firms that lose data due to any reason close within five months.

Not to ignore, companies are at risk of losing valuable data permanently. Malware and viruses can destroy it and are some of the most dominant threats to data security. However, 60% IT professionals consider that careless employees are a significant risk to personal or professional data.

There is no doubt that these risks can bring financial instability to your company. Without a proper backup system, both your company’s reputation as well other assets are at stake.

Steps to Create Backup

1. Assess the Backup Needs of Your Company

Assessing the backup needs of your company is the first step. You need to consider several things. Here we have broken it into three important points.

What Company Data needs Protection?

To answer this question precisely, everything needs to be protected. Losing even minor data files permanently can be of high risk. To put it simply, all of your data is crucial to keep everything operational.

Consider these questions for both long and short-term benefits.

  • Do you need to restore data?
  • Do you need an ability to recover data?
  • Do you need uninterrupted services to be available to your clients?
  • Do you need to implement back up strategy for your operating system, databases, configuration, and applications?

All these questions will help you make a comprehensive data backup strategy. Plus, considering these points before devising a backup strategy will set a clear direction for the right backup solution.

What Data Risks you have?

Considering your data risks is vital to prevent the risks of cyber crime. You need some of the best back up strategies to protect data from professional hackers.

Here are some important considerations:

  • Have your systems been hacked in the past?
  • Are your careless employees the reason for poor security?
  • Is your location safe in terms of weather-related damage?
  • Can your clients also access the company’s data from anywhere?

These questions can be really helpful to identify risks that your data faces.

2. Evaluate Best Backup Strategy Options

Once you have determined the backup needs for your business, you need to evaluate various backup strategy options you have. Here are some backup options you can choose according to your setup and needs.

Software Solution

You may buy software backup that can be less pricey than investing in hardware backup.  You can easily install them on your systems using a separate server for them. Installing software backup may be an ideal option if your business infrastructure is dynamic.

Cloud Services

It is an offsite backup facility that allows users to run their backups and stores them in the vendors’ cloud infrastructure. It is secure and affordable, but often not suitable for companies that have sensitive data and/or are subject to various regulatory requirements.

Hybrid Solutions

One of the popular and advanced options is implementing a hybrid backup solution. It is a combination of cloud backups that comes with multiple data restoring options. Not only does it provide you with on-site backup, but you can also recover data from the cloud network.

3. Budgeting

Creating a budget for your backup solution is the third step in your plan. You need to review all your options with their cost in order to choose what suits your infrastructure best. Cloud-based back-ups are more affordable in terms of capital expenditure for most startups. Make sure you estimate the cost of:

  • Data lost due to a disaster or data breach
  • To  train staff to manage backup

4. Implement

You have reviewed both your backup solution options and their cost, and now it is time to implement your chosen option. Make sure that your infrastructure has technology expertise both in hardware and software installation.

No matter what backup option you choose, they need to be properly configured. Plus, proper backup is pivotal to maintaining a stable, healthy and ethical practice. That is why they need to be implemented appropriately.

5. Test and Review

To avoid catastrophic data loss and minimize the risk of inadequate data recovery, testing your backup solution is essential. There may be serious flaws in your implemented backup strategy. It is always better to test your backup solution routinely before completely relying on it.

Simulate some real scenarios to protect major data loss just by deleting a single file.

At the same time, keep reviewing your backup strategy as technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Timely reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of your plan will allow you to adjust your backup strategy for the better.

Final Thoughts

Overall, implementing the most effective backup strategies is undeniably the safest option to protect your crucial data.

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